YOUR CHINCHILLAS' HEALTH
Keeping your chinchillas fit and healthy
Check your chinchillas every day for any signs that they’re unwell. Take your chinchillas to the vet at least once a year. Chinchillas are prey animals so will hide signs of ill-health or pain, so annual vet visits are so important to avoid illness. Chinchillas need specialist care, so try to find a vet with experience in chinchillas.
If your chinchilla’s behaviour or their eating and drinking patterns change, take your chinchilla to the vet as soon as possible. One of the first warning signs to watch out for is a change in their droppings.
Common health problems
Chinchilla’s teeth grow throughout their lives, so they need a high fibre diet to help wear them down. Without the correct level of fibre, chinchillas’ teeth will become overgrown and sharp spikes can develop on the sides of the teeth. This can cause painful sores on their tongues and cheeks. The best way to avoid this illness is by providing your chinchillas with a constant supply of fresh, good quality feeding hay.
Without sufficient fibre in the diet to keep the gut moving, chinchillas can suffer from gut stasis. This is where the gut slows down and stops moving. Gut stasis can be fatal so the best way to avoid it is to make sure you’re giving your chinchillas a high fibre diet.
Bloat is caused by a chinchilla being fed the wrong diet. Common examples are too many wet foods and foods with too much sugar content. This kind of incorrect diet causes too much gas which a chinchilla can’t pass effectively. This bloat excruciatingly painful for the chinchilla, is very hard to treat and can often by fatal.
Chinchillas can suffer from ringworm. Ringworm can cause crusted lesions on the skin and lead to fur loss. If you see any of these symptoms seek advice from your vet immediately and take care when handling as it can be contagious to other animals and humans.
If chinchillas are handled incorrectly they may try to escape. When they jump out of your hands, large clumps of hair can fall out. This is called fur slip. It’s often thought this is a sign of ill health, but if you change the way you hold your chinchillas, fur slip can be avoided. Check out our companionship guide for more information on handling your chinchillas.
Age related illnesses
As your chinchillas age keep an eye out for potential age-related illnesses. These can include heart problems, respiratory conditions, arthritis and deteriorating eyesight.
Chinchilla health check
As chinchillas are prey animals, they are likely to hide any signs they are feeling unwell. You know your chinchillas best. If you have any concerns about your chinchillas’ behaviour or their health, get advice from a vet with experience in chinchillas.
Chinchillas need access to a dust bath at least 2-3 times a week – sometimes even daily! If you chinchillas are bathing daily, only let them in their dust bath for 10-15 minutes and watch out for dry skin around their ears. This could be a sign they’re bathing too much. Make sure the sand is very fine and suitable for chinchillas. Don’t put a lid on the dust bath as this stops the air flow. Only use chinchilla-friendly sand, don’t bath your chinchillas in water as this can damage their fur.
Behaviour: The best time to observe your chinchillas is in the evening or at night. Keep an eye out for any signs of stress. This can include hiding, chewing their own or their housemate’s fur, pacing up and down or making lots of noise
Body: When stroking your chinchillas, check for any swellings or lumps and if your chinchillas seem to be in pain when you touch them
Eyes: Check regularly for runny eyes
Feet: Watch out for any injuries to your chinchillas’ feet
Mobility: It’s fun to watch your chinchillas play! When you do, keep an eye out for any signs of limping or if they seem to have less energy than usual
Nose: Make sure there’s no discharge coming from your chinchillas’ noses
Skin and coat: Check regularly for any open wounds or fur loss
Teeth: Keep an eye on your chinchillas’ teeth for any signs they are overgrown or misaligned
Neutering your chinchillas
It is uncommon to neuter female chinchillas as a spay is a very invasive procedure and is difficult for the female chinchilla to recover from.
If you have a mixed group of male and female chinchillas, the male should be neutered. This is to avoid any unwanted pregnancies and reduce any aggressive behaviour.
DO YOU NEED MORE ADVICE?
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If you should have any concerns about the health of your pet, always consult a vet.